Column: The hit Cartoon Community sequence is uniquely positioned to say one thing about probably the most systemic issues in our tradition at the moment.
The best energy of science fiction storytelling is the way in which it could shine an vital mild again on actual world issues we’re going through. The Twilight Zone and Star Trek stay plain classics of the style not simply due to the plot twists and totally different worlds they introduced us to, however due to what they needed to say about our world. In the identical approach, Rick and Morty, a contemporary traditional of sci-fi tv, is uniquely positioned to say one thing about probably the most systemic issues in our tradition at the moment — sexual harassment.
Certainly one of Rick and Morty’s best strengths is its unflinching willingness to discover the darkness of its characters. The present has by no means shied away from heavy themes, together with alcoholism, suicide and pedophilia, so sexual harassment is actually not off the desk as a viable matter of dialogue, particularly contemplating co-creator Dan Harmon’s current admission on his podcast that he sexually harassed one among his earlier writers, Megan Ganz, with whom he labored on Neighborhood.
After a Twitter exchange whereby Ganz challenged Harmon for his inappropriate habits and the impact it had on her personally and professionally, Harmon gave a full account of his repeated, self-described “flirty, creepy” habits in the direction of his former worker. Ganz accepted this apology, calling it “a masterclass in How you can Apologize.” I encourage you to hearken to the audio of Harmon’s full apology, which begins at 18:40.
I’m not right here to present Harmon factors for bravery as a result of, as he notes, this type of contrition ought to be a traditional a part of the method, not a technique to soothe an abuser’s personal conscience. Ganz publicly referred to as out the showrunner of probably the most fashionable animated reveals on tv, regardless of it having a fanbase with a historical past of attacking its feminine writers’ privateness and rioting inside McDonald’s shops as a result of they will’t get their palms on a packet of dipping sauce. That’s bravery.
Harmon notes in his apology that, to his personal thoughts, he acquired away with how he handled Ganz by “not serious about it.” Properly, to borrow a phrase, time’s up on that type of willful amnesia. For too lengthy, sexual aggression in the direction of ladies has been normalized in movie and tv, each on-screen and behind the scenes. We should face sexual harassment in all its varieties head on and, crucially, that begins with the leaders of the business persevering with the dialog. I consider that artists have an obligation of their work to inform their fact. Harmon has loads to say on what he’s discovered about sexual harassment and, as showrunner of Rick and Morty, the right place to say it.
Regardless of being stuffed with gut-busting laughs and genuinely intelligent plotting, probably the most hanging moments of Rick and Morty, to my thoughts, are a few of its most uncomfortable. In “Whole Rickall,” we study that Beth has some critical issues with alcohol. Throughout a flashback, she by accident provides Summer time a black eye with an empty wine bottle whereas drunk. On the finish of the episode, after Beth misguidedly shoots Mr. Poopybutthole, she retreats to the kitchen. Palms violently shaking and tears streaming from her eyes, she pours herself a full glass of wine and downs it in a single go.
In “Meeseeks and Destroy,” the seemingly benevolent King Jellybean corners Morty in a rest room and makes an attempt to rape him. Although Rick kills Jellybean for his crime, the post-credits scene reveals that two of his subordinates discovered a field stuffed with proof of the King’s prior assaults and, quite than tarnish his legacy, destroyed it.
Neither Beth’s breakdown nor Morty’s assault are handled as jokes, however as a substitute are situations of the creators holding a mirror to the viewers and asking them to actually take into account what these moments make them really feel. They’re reminding us that darkness and evil are ever-present forces that one should confront or purposefully select to disregard. By accepting accountability with out equivocation for the hurt he brought on Ganz, Harmon alerts to the world that he desires to make an instance of himself, and hopefully be an ally to ladies and all victims of sexual harassment in actions in addition to phrases.
For Harmon’s apology and the teachings he’s discovered to have probably the most impression, it ought to be mirrored in his work. What higher approach to do this than by spending a whole episode of the upcoming season of Rick and Morty educating each the characters and the viewers in regards to the seismic impact sexual harassment and violence can have?
There has by no means been a time in our tradition the place sexual harassment has been handled with this degree of consideration, or with the seriousness it deserves. It’s something we here at IGN have first-hand experience with. We’re taking our first steps on a cultural journey of therapeutic and betterment, and it’s going to be an extended street. The voices of our most seen artists are going to be invaluable going ahead. As a kind of artists, Harmon ought to take into account simply how a lot of a distinction he might make by utilizing his platform to additional elevate this important dialog — particularly if he additionally amplifies a feminine author’s voice within the course of.
Harmon closes out his apology to Ganz with this sentiment: “We’re dwelling in a very good time proper now as a result of we’re not going to get away with [sexual harassment] anymore, and if we will make it a traditional a part of our tradition that we give it some thought and probably discuss it, then perhaps we will get to a greater place the place that stuff doesn’t occur.”
Now inform me you’ll be able to’t think about Morty stammering his approach by these actual phrases and Rick saying, “No s#!t, Morty.”
Tom is an affiliate video producer at IGN and co-host of the IGN Films Podcast. He additionally makes motion pictures, tweets from @Tom_Jorgensen, and detests writing within the third individual.